Why Deciding to Sell Was the Toughest Part of the Acquisition Process for This Founder

When you think of selling your company, what comes to mind? 

Maybe it’s the arduous acquisition process, the difficulty of finding the right buyer, or the stress of passing due diligence. 

While all those things can be difficult, Ivan Homola, cofounder of QAPop, says that deciding to sell his company was the toughest part of the acquisition process. 

Once he finally committed to listing his company on Acquire.com, everything went smoothly from there. Now, he wishes he’d done it sooner. 

Finding an Untapped Market

Ivan started his career as a freelance developer and then became the founder of a development agency, Lunadio. He exited Lunadio in 2019 to focus on building his own products. One of those products ended up being QAPop, a Quora marketing tool. 

Ivan says, “My cofounder, Fabian, is a marketing consultant and growth hacker. Fun fact: We met in Brno, the second largest city in Czechia, but he’s French and I’m Slovak. A common friend introduced us because we were both interested in growth hacking and exploring non-traditional marketing channels.”

At the time, Fabian offered a service that helped clients use Quora to market their businesses. With Ivan and Fabian’s complementary skills, they wanted to turn it into a productized service – and then, ultimately, a SaaS product. That’s how QAPop was born. 

The MVP was simple: The founders created a landing page where people could order a report with the best Quora questions related to their business. After they paid the invoice, customers had to wait up to 24 hours to get their data in a Google Spreadsheet.

“People were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the marketing insights that our report gave them. There wasn’t anything like it available in the market. The business opportunity lay in turning it into a product. The big challenge was automating it so that people could get the results instantly,” Ivan says. 

With so many technical areas to cover, from web scraping to automation, the founders asked friends and freelancers to help kick off the development of QAPop. But after that initial help, Ivan and Fabian managed the whole project together.

Mixing Acquisition Strategies

Once the first version of the QAPop SaaS product was ready in May 2021, the founders contacted every customer who’d bought their spreadsheet service in the past to tell them about it. In August, they launched on Product Hunt with a campaign selling lifetime deals in return for a one-off payment, not a subscription. It earned a boost in revenue, users, and feedback, which they used to iterate on QAPop. 

Ivan says, “Initially, we sold fifty lifetime deals. We didn’t know how people were going to use our product. We were afraid that they might abuse the unlimited cap and we would lose money on the deal. After analyzing the product usage data, we concluded that it benefited both sides. After that, we launched a bigger campaign and sold five hundred lifetime deals.”  

Alongside these acquisition strategies, the founders targeted potential customers on LinkedIn. Ivan admits that it was almost like door-to-door sales, but it worked. By October 2021, QAPop had grown to 1,000 users. 

From there, word of mouth took off. Unexpectedly, YouTube became an important source of traffic. “Out of nowhere, we had this spike in new signups and we traced it back to a YouTube video. Someone had started posting videos about how to use QAPop for effective marketing and it drove a lot of traffic to our site – and it still does to this day,” Ivan says.

“We didn’t pay this person or partner with them, they just genuinely shared how much they liked QAPop. And with a more complicated product like ours, video is a great way to communicate the value to people.” By January 2022, only four months after its official launch, QAPop crossed $10,000 in revenue.

How Do You Know When It’s the Right Time to Sell? 

By the end of 2022, the founders were reassessing their situation. Ivan says, “I moved to another country, so Fabian and I didn’t have as much time to meet. Also, and most importantly, I wanted to get started on so many new ideas. The hype around AI was already building and I saw endless opportunities there. We both knew that it was just the natural evolution for us to move on at some point,” Ivan says.

“But deciding to sell our company was the hardest part of the entire acquisition process,” he adds. “Mostly because I was emotionally attached to QAPop. It was the first product I ever built that gained such traction, becoming an established name among marketing tools. I felt responsible for our users and wanted to ensure the company would grow. It took me a while to realize that my lack of time and focus actually held QAPop back and that a new owner would bring in fresh energy and ideas.”

After several months of going back and forth, Ivan and Fabian finally agreed it was time to cut the knot. “I knew that if we were going to sell, Acquire.com was the only platform we could reliably and successfully do it on. One night, I started filling out the listing because I wanted to know exactly what the process looked like… And then I just clicked the submit button. After that, I felt like there was no going back, only forward,” Ivan says.   

As soon as the listing went live on Acquire.com, buyers jumped on it. Within a week, the founders got several offers and shortlisted three buyers that matched their criteria. Ivan and Fabian were picky about who they wanted as QAPop’s new owner – not only did they want the best match for themselves, but also for their customers. 

In March 2023, they officially sold QAPop for five figures. What was it that sealed the deal with Derek, their eventual buyer? Ivan says, “Derek was very enthusiastic about QAPop. He was impressed and thought our product was cool. That’s what I liked most about him, his excitement about what we had created. It’s what made him stand out from the other candidates. I wanted to make sure QAPop would be in the best hands, with someone who was passionate about it and would do the best thing for our customers.”  

Derek shared his plans for QAPop with the founders. He plans to grow the business through conversion rate optimization, his specialty, and add more features to support marketing agencies. Currently, Ivan is still on board to advise him and help the business grow. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Swift Decisions

An important lesson that Ivan learned from his QAPop journey was to move faster, especially when making decisions. “I would advise other founders to make decisions faster, without so much hesitation. If you want to experiment with how you’re acquiring customers, do it. If you’re curious about another opportunity, try it,” Ivan says.  

“And if you want to move on, there’s nothing wrong with letting go. The hardest challenge to overcome is the emotional connection to our businesses. But instead of letting your company or project slowly die because you’re not excited about it anymore, sell it and watch it grow in someone else’s hands. It took us a few months to decide to sell QAPop, but it was the right path. Now I can focus on new projects and bigger visions, while QAPop continues expanding.”

Startup opportunities come and go, be it inventing a new product, securing funding, attracting top talent, or forging strategic partnerships. Quick decision-making allows you to capitalize on these chances before they slip away. Taking advantage of the surge in AI, Ivan’s founder journey continues with FoxyApps, tiny AI-powered lead magnet apps you can embed on your website to convert your visitors to leads. Ivan is excited to be able to bring AI to lead generation.
Follow along with Ivan’s entrepreneurial journey on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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